Friends Life has rolled out a direct-to-consumer financial planning service offering advice to existing customers on how to manage their Friends Life policies.
PlanWise is a phone and web-based service which allows Friends Life customers to check valuations, view fund factsheets, check fund prices and switch funds. It launched in April with no publicity.
The website says that customers using PlanWise can access “professional financial advice” and promises “in-depth advice on your Friends Life plan and more.” It also includes the statement: “By registering for PlanWise, you will be replacing the current adviser to your Friends Life plan with PlanWise.”
Marketing director Jo Cann says the PlanWise service is for existing Friends customers who have lost access to their IFA or who no longer have a relationship with their IFA.
She says: “It is a service for our existing customers, it is not for new customers. We already know we have got some orphan customers so it was developed primarily with them in mind. There is an expectation that with the RDR there will be further customers who perhaps do not have access to advice, so we built the service with that in mind as well. We offer clients a financial review of their existing plan and we make it very clear that we can only talk to them about their existing Friends products.”
The service is also available to Friends’ existing direct customers.
Last week, Money Marketing reported that Friends had sent a mailing to a number of Woodcocks financial services manager Brian Ollerton’s clients and made follow-up phone calls about their relationship with their IFA.
Ollerton says: “I feel Friends is not being totally open with us about what it is doing. Normally, with this kind of service, there would be a fanfare around its launch. The fact that it has not publicised this service speaks volumes.”